Steve Khan: Got My Mental

While Khan’s approach-one that gives concept and feel as much weight as technique-is perhaps the main reason why he’s chronically underrated, it usually makes for a performance that’s as distinctive as it is musical. This outing-with John Patitucci, Jack DeJohnette and a cadre of guest percussionists-is no exception.

One of the album’s most creative facets is the choice and treatment of the material, a common Khan trait. In a trio context, he attacks Ornette Coleman’s “R.P.D.D.” by seamlessly moving in and out of pointillistic phrases that punch at the time and floating lines (check out Patitucci’s killer acoustic solo). Don Alias and Bobby Allende sign on for Keith Jarrett’s “Common Mama,” whose easy-going Latin groove provides a forum for a multi-faceted guitar solo rife with chordal jabs. Khan’s personal, open, flexible style translates especially well to ballads, something he demonstrates during the subtle, sensitive treatment of “The Last Dance,” written by his father, Sammy Cahn. And Eddie Harris’ “Sham Time,” also graced by Alias and Allende, mines a subdued funky Latin vein that Khan explores with restrained but complex phrases and repetitive motifs. Artful throughout, Got My Mental has all that and a lot more.